It’s one of the most elegant hotels in Baltimore. It’s reputation exceeds it. Hospitality experts have praised the hotel over and over again. Now, meet the husband and wife behind the success and splendor of The Ivy Hotel: Eddie and C. Sylvia Brown.
Married for over 54 years, the Browns totally renovated the historic property, and made it into one of the city’s most lavish hotels.
The Ivy has a rich history. It began as a Gilded Age brownstone commissioned by prominent banker John Gilman. Gilman’s widow sold it to William Painter, an inventor and president of Crown Cork and Seal Co., a longtime Baltimore manufacturing businessman. The property was passed through other wealthy families. Eventually, the mansion was gifted to the Baltimore Parks and Recreation Department by Robert Garrett, a former chairman (and one of America’s first Olympic gold medalists). The city of Baltimore started using it as the Inn at Government House to house visiting dignitaries in the 1980s until 2010. In 2011, the City of Baltimore sold the property to a local private development consortium called Mount Vernon Mansion L.L.C. to redevelop it as a boutique hotel. This is where the Browns stepped in.
The Browns partnered with Martin Azola, who has been restoring historic properties for 40 years.
The Ivy Hotel opened on June 1, 2015.
The hotel retained much of its historic regalia: the green marble, the parquet floors, pocket doors, the three-story Grand Staircase, carved wood wainscoting, 23 individual fireplaces, and the numerous leaded glass (stained glass) windows. There’s a full-service spa as well as a library, a music room and a conservatory with African-style masks and decor.
The Browns are world travelers and wanted to bring a high standard to Baltimore. “We wanted the place to reflect a place we would stay in. We want our guests to feel pampered, to feel respected,” says Sylvia.
The hotel also has modern American restaurant called Magdalena, considered one of the finest restaurants in the city. “We wanted a top-notch restaurant,” says Eddie. “It attracts people who aren’t staying in the hotel. People come for lunch, dinner.”
Eddie and Sylvia are a dynamic couple. They met as sophomores at Howard University. And in all, they have renovated nine historic properties in Baltimore. When asked if they will make it a 10th, Sylvia replies with a laugh, “I think we are going to stop at nine.”
Eddie, 78 years old, is founder of Baltimore-based Brown Capital Management. It is the second-oldest African American–owned financial advisory firm in the entire U.S. It reportedly has $11.3 billion in assets under management.
Eddie started out as an engineer and Army lieutenant before starting a career in finance at T. Rowe Price before founding Brown Capital Management in 1983.
In early 2002, their Brown Family Foundation launched the Turning the Corner Achievement Program, an education initiative for African-American middle school students in Baltimore.
Sylvia worked both in education and business. She taught middle school and later at Baltimore City Community College. She was also assistant director of Admissions and Registration, and worked in property development and management of the Brown family’s real estate in Baltimore City.
With the Ivy Hotel and all their renovations, there is a bigger purpose. Says Eddie, “We’re building for future generations.”